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Where was God in Aurora massacre?
Twelve crosses comprise a makeshift memorial near the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, scene of last week’s mass shooting
July 24th, 2012
02:13 PM ET

Where was God in Aurora massacre?

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Where was God in Aurora?

It’s a fresh take on an age-old question: Why does God allow suffering, natural disasters or - if you believe in it - evil?

We put the question to Twitter on Tuesday and got some starkly different responses.

“In short, God was in complete control, exercising His will,” wrote @PastorRileyF, who leads a church in Bethune, Colorado.

That riled @TheTrivia Jockey, who tweeted, “If that was God's will, God is definitely not deserving of my worship.”

Watch: Survivor of massacre says he forgives gunman

@trentpayne also took issue with the Colorado pastor: "I'm going to respectfully disagree with you Pastor. God gives free will to man, but it wasn't his will that they die."

The back-and-forth provoked other believers to chime in on the theological issue of God’s sovereignty vs. human free will, with many Christians seeking to explain how a sovereign God could preside over seemingly senseless bloodshed.

“It is not God's will or want that people died in Aurora,” wrote @GospelBluesman 20m. "God allowed man's inhumanity to man, rather than intervene.”

The conversation and debate continued in the comments section of this post, with some insinuating that the massacre might be a kind of divine punishment, or at lease divine neglect:

Lenny
We as a country have been telling God to go away. We told him to get off our currency, get out of our schools, get out of our Pledge of Allegiance, take your Ten Commandments out of our courthouses, get those Bibles out of hotels and no graduation ceremonies in our churches. How can we expect God to give us his blessing and his protection if we demand that he leave us alone?

Jesse R
Liberals have made it impossible for God to be anywhere during the upbringing of a child. Can't have any religious connotations in schools, libraries, government offices, etc., etc. Young men (and women) are growing up with no real sense of right and wrong. ... We no longer have the right of religion, but rather the right from religion. Parents no longer have the ability to discipline their children. We are always looking for the excuses ... violent video games and movies, bad teachers and schools ... when we should be looking in the mirror. We as a society are the reasons these massacres happen. We have allowed our children to become social misfits that lead to the kind of carnage we have seen on several occasions since religion and God disappeared from what the Founding Fathers once said was a necessity of a successful democracy ... faith.

Lots of readers used religious takes on the shooting to challenge the whole idea of God:

Who invited me?
How do you know the people that were killed didn't go to hell?, and how exactly does any of this show there is a reason? Reason is obviously something that you have replaced with belief, and you threw out logic with it.

Kyle
"God doesn't exist, so he wasn't anywhere. Get over it. A man was evil, and he was evil because he was crazy.

Plenty of others said the shooting was the devil's work:

Harleyxx
Evil things like this happen because Satan is the god of this world ... for the time being. God will undo all the damage caused by Satan's rebellion and man's disobedience when the time is right. In the meantime we all experience trials and tribulation due to living in an ungodly world. That is why Jesus taught his followers the Lord's Prayer ... 'to pray for God's kingdom to come.'

What’s your take? Where was God in the Aurora massacre? Or do you feel that such tragedies are evidence for a godless universe?

Let us know in comments, and we’ll highlight the best ones.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: God • Violence

soundoff (10,690 Responses)
  1. misterjames

    holy cannoli you people are dumb..god as we know it doesn't exist..end of story

    July 25, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  2. FormerChristian

    The article is flame bait.

    But, here is an answer: In the minds of many people.

    "God" is a man made concept, and does not exist in Aurora or anywhere in reality.

    If God existed in reality, then there would be something to test. There is nothing to test.

    Miracles like raising the dead, parting waters, or stopping the sun, only existed in pre-scientific, pre-historic times.
    The reason they don't happen now, is because they did not happen then either. There were just no skeptics or scientists, or people recording video to uncover the hoax or mis-conception.

    Finding evidence of the supernatural is like finding "real magic". If it's real, then it's something that can be demonstrated, and not magic. Similarly, if there is evidence, then it's not supernatural.

    Supernatural and magic things can by definition only exist outside of reality.
    Of course humans can often interpret fantasy as reality. I just wish there were less CNN articles doing so.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • daboni

      Heh, we are tested everyday as a world...our lack of understanding of the cosmos and the intelligence behind it, is our own fault.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  3. daboni

    People want free will and the ability to make our own decisions. But they also want a being to take care of them in everything? We have free will and choices, what we do with them is up to us, as an individual, and as a world. Just becuase we are not in tune with God, the mohter earth, and the universe; it doesn't mean that God doesn't exist. Rather than using your time and energy to disprove God or debate about it. We should try and create a better world. God will manifest itself in that way.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  4. Vern Sawyer

    God doesn't exist. When is this worthless "Belief Blog" going to get shut down? The bandwidth could be used to cover real news instead of simpletons waxing philosophical about how totally boss their imaginary friend is.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • daboni

      Tell that to Sir Issac Newton, Gregor Mendel, Galileo,Descartes, and so forth.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • roadrunner321

      daboni, the opinions of scientists are only valuable insofar as they can be tested. Their names do not give credence to their opinions, evidence does.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Starzee

      Then don't come to the blog, know what I mean Vern?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  5. Sue

    It is interesting to me that some people leave everything, good and bad in the hands of "god". They are thankful to God when good things happen and blame God when bad things happen. This way of thinking excuses everyone from being responsible or accountable for anything. I don't know if God was there or not. Or if there even is a God. But one thing for sure that was missing ... was gun control.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  6. Name*retro girl

    Kyle, if evil exists then good exists. Sin/Satan caused that man to do what he did. God did not cause it he chose to not intervene. He had a greater purpose for making that choice. I agree with the comments of taking God out of everything in life then somehow we are surprised that he is not there . If you take God out of the picture you leave room for something dark to come in-that man is living proof. Guns Re not the problem nor are videos, the Internet or violent movies and games. It is sin that is the problem that twists the mind and heart of a person so that they do this . The other things are mere tools. However it is easier for people to point fingers at the tools than examine their souls.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  7. Cleffjoe

    only the fool says there is no God

    July 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • no nothing

      Gee I don't know what makes you think so. Did god tell you this?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • FormerChristian

      "only the fool says there is no God"

      By your logic, are these also true?
      "Only the fool says there is no Bigfoot."
      "Only the fool says there is no Loch ness monster."

      With as much detail as you can give, please describe "God", such that we may search for evidence for such a thing.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  8. Bryant

    It's astonishing the number of people who lack faith today.America was meant to be a city on a hill and was formed on that belief. The country wouldn't have ever reached super power status if it were not for its strong faith that led to our expansion. Now so many don't even acknoweledge that and sit thinking logic and science. we all think we are so smart. No, we only use things other smart people have invented. God exist, but dont put blame on him and responsible for everything that is wrong in the world. non believers out there you may think of this as garbage, but please open your minds.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      The open mind accepts reason and evidence as guides; blind faith is evidence of a closed mind. Wake up!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  9. Geoffrey Law

    This theological debate was originally started by the 18th century polymath Gottfried Leibniz. It's called theodicy. The philosophical problem he originally proposed were 3 basic statements which a believer either agrees with or doesn't agree with . 1. God is all powerful 2. God is all loving 3. There is suffering. As he pointed out, all three of statements can't be true. Leibniz was a Christian, though.
    Since that time theologians and philosophers alike have debated this to exhaustion and realistically, no one has really given an acceptable argument unifying these three statements without contradiction.. If any of you are interested on the subject matter and you realize that arguing this on the internet is the complete opposite of gaining credible knowledge on this problem, you should read God's Problem by Bart Ehrman.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  10. Caroline

    Trying to understand God before having first validated your own existence is akin to dismissing Jesus' existence without first searching the presented evidence... Spiritual suicide.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Aside from the bible, what presented evidence is there of the real historical Jesus.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  11. no nothing

    Absolve yourself of personal responsibility be cause it's all "god's will" and you have nothing to do with it.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  12. DownInIt

    Like many of our founding fathers, I am a Deist, someone who does not believe in a personal God, just a creator who set things in motion. (Actually I'm an agnostic Deist)
    "Where was God?" "Why does God allow evil?" – Questions that only someone who believes in a personal God asks.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Carl

      So why do you believe there was a God who set this all into motion?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • matthewak47

      Me too so happy to see some one using god given reson!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  13. ruth

    You are not to question God,some people come into our lives for a reason ,some for a season and some for a day ,what happens is up to man and some people pay with their life,as long as man is on this earth this is what we have to live with....

    July 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  14. kelly51

    This atrocity was not intended by God. Satan has as much control as God does in a person's life. You can take one of two paths. Narrow is the gate of the faithful. God gave us free will and this monster instead chose to destroy other humans, Maybe in his sick way he had control over God and sent them to their maker, when he decided, NOT when God intented. It's definitley a control issue and he thought his high intelligence could fool the authorities and everyone else. That's why he was shocked when he was caught so easily. This man is evil and should be treated like an evil person. No insanity plea for this monster (son of satan)

    July 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  15. Elim

    Your question is phrased wrong. There is no god.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  16. Citizen Al

    God did not intend man to live in an evil world. He intended for man to want not, need not. Disobedience comes with a high price. Utopia was terminated because man decided to disobey God, Genesis, chapter 3, Holy Bible (I recommend the King James version). So this evil, is the presence of the evil that convinced man to disobey God in the beginning. Of course, that is when God realized man is of flesh and bone, and his senses and emotions would forever betray him, so, he came to Earth in the form of man, Emmanuel, "God with us", to redeem our sins (Matthew, chapter 1, verse 23). From cover to cover, open it and discover . . . Amen.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Carl

      The longer and more complex the reasoning, the less likely it is correct.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      So, you believe that somewhere back in the lost mists of time, a man and a woman disobeyed God and all human beings since then have been tortured for the offense...and you believe that God is LOVING? You have migrated to an alternate mental universe.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  17. Alec

    Tragedies like this one humble all of our certainties.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  18. Jay Phillips

    This whole religious debate is absolute lunacy. To blame this atrocity on Satan, godlessness, absense of religious or any other similar reason is just plain foolish. This was caused by an angry and (probably) psychologically troubled man. Nothing more, nothing less.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  19. Jennifer

    It is not God that kills, it is people that kill. The world is a great place, perfectly designed and made for life, but people have turned it into a bad and scary place because we have lost touch with our creator. All the wars are caused by man's greed and obsession for power. Again, we, people are accountable for OUR own actions. We could choose to do good or bad. That is the definition of Will. There has always been murder, war and hate since people inhabited the earth. Before people, I am sure Earth was serene and peaceful. Take a look in the mirror at yourself before chanting about God's character.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Citizen Al

      Amen Jennifer!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Joseph

      I would respectfully argue that stating ALL wars is misguided ... until recently wars were waged BECAUSE OF RELIGION ... and IN THE NAME OF RELIGION ... the central power that existed before more formal governments was the church ... the only difference between that and today's dysfunctional governments is taxation ... they are both about control and power over the masses

      July 25, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  20. Michael

    I think that the tragedies would happen whether a god existed or not. However, it's the reaction to the tragedies that, in my mind, provide evidence of a god. The reactions calling for justice, the sheer despair people felt, and the sense of wrong that people experienced tells me that a God exists. So yes, death would happen whether a god existed or not, but the evidence isn't in the tragedy, but rather in the reaction of those experiencing it.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • roadrunner321

      Why is natural human empathy, the ability to identify with the suffering of others, evidence of God? It seems much simpler and requiring less hand-waving to say humans have the ability to imagine themselves in another person's shoes and act to alleviate their suffering. It's human nature. It wasn't given to us.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Miguel

      right on!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      How about the voices calling for immediate summary execution for Holmes? How about the thousands of people who have rushed out to buy guns? Evidence of a God? You are a monument to wishful thinking.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.